Bridgestone vs Michelin has been the age-old rivalry when it comes to the world of tires.
It has played out as the typical sequence where two goliaths go head to head, the losses of one compounded by the other and the gains providing ever-so-useful information that has helped these giants stay at the peak of their intended markets throughout their illustrious history.
In the modern age, both these companies, along with their sister brands are at the forefront of modernizing and revolutionizing the tire industry and the ultimate benefit goes to us, the consumers.
It is a general dictum that better competition in the industry translates into better service for the consumers and eventually leads to products that are worth the price-tag they come with, and sometimes even more!
This article compares the performance of two bleeding-edge products of these tire manufacturing giants.
Bridgestone Ecopia – A brief overview
The Bridgestone Ecopia EP422 caters to multiple classes of vehicles such as sedans, minivans, coupes, and small crossover vehicles. Ecopia 4422 was designed by the Japanese company to give better fuel efficiency, leave a smaller carbon footprint and yield durable all-weather traction.
The tire makes use of Bridgestone’s latest technology- The Nano-Tech silica tread compound. Two steel belts with the added reinforcement of nylon wrapped spirally constitute the main design of the tire.
This design particularly helps with the overall strength and ride comfort. The use of intermediate ribs around the tire coupled with independent center blocks is said to improve dry traction whereas the use of circumferential grooves enhances performance under wet conditions.
The main selling points of this model are better fuel consumption and lower rolling resistance with the additional promise of lower carbon emissions for those who truly care about the environment. The tire is available in 15” to 18” diameters and comes with a warranty of 70,000 miles.
Michelin Defender- A brief overview
Michelin Defender has been marketed as the new all-weather Michelin tire that makes use of the latest technology the French company has to offer- Michelin’s IntelliSipe technology.
This particular model has been rolled out for family sedans, SUVs, coupes, and minivans and promises enhanced fuel efficiency, lower tire resistance, and better handling and grip under all weather conditions.
The unique interlocking mechanism of IntelliSipe and Green X technology utilized by these tires ensures decreased rolling resistance which translates into better fuel economy.
On dry surfaces, the increased number of sipes help with the handling and grip whereas, on wet surfaces, the performance is enhanced by the use of multiple circumferential and lateral grooves.
Among the other unique features that make up the interior of the tire’s design are the two steel belts coupled with a polyester cord body and Michelin’s MaxTouch technology.
This particular design augments the strength and durability of the tires by optimizing the contact of the tire with the road while braking, accelerating or cornering.
The tire comes with an impressive warranty of 90,000 miles and is available in sizes 13” to 18”.
Comparison of Bridgestone Ecopia and Michelin Defender:
On paper, both these products boast impressive stats and come with both great promise and potential. Both seem like excellent options that the forerunners of the tire industry have to offer with bleeding edge modern technology.
However, to discover which one of these products delivered more on the expectations that an average consumer would have based on these promises, we subjected both products to rigorous testing on the following 12 criteria:
- Dry traction
- Wet traction
- Snow traction
- Ride comfort
- Rolling resistance
- Fuel consumption
- Noise levels
- Off-road experience
- Steering responsiveness
- Environment friendliness
- Treadwear life
The results our comparisons gave us are summarized below followed by a more detailed and in-depth breakdown of each category.
Dry traction comparison
With a hefty price tag and the good repute that these two companies enjoy, you’d expect them to ace the dry traction tests; and that’s just what they did!
Both the Bridgestone Ecopia and Michelin Defender proved to be excellent performers in this category with the Michelin tire taking the edge over the Ecopia ever so slightly.
Michelin’s IntelliSipe technology and the increased number of sipes on the wheel ensured that braking, accelerating, and turning corners on dry surfaces were smooth and effortless. The grip and handling remained exceptional even after running these tires for over 20,000 miles.
To cut down on different variables, we chose the 215/60R17 96T BSW size variants of both these tires and tested them on Toyota Camry 2019 model.
The braking distance, when tested on a dry surface at a speed of 60mph, came out to be 24m for the Defender and 27m for Ecopia.
The Ecopia results were impressive as well and for the most part, the grip and handling on dry surfaces were on par with if not better than the Defender. However, after running them for about 21,000 miles, they suffered from progressively worse traction control which is why Michelin’s Defender wins this category.
Wet traction comparison
Both the tires were again neck and neck in this category and delivered excellent results. Just as the dry traction test, however, Michelin’s Defender once again came out on top.
Michelin’s better performance came due in part to the tire’s design. The four circumferential grooves and multiple lateral grooves work together to substantially enhance the tire’s grip on wet surfaces.
The end result is better handling under both light and torrential rain. The tires did suffer slightly, however, when braking corners.
In this category, we tested the traction on a wet road with 2mm of water with a standard speed of 60 mph. The braking distances for the Defender and Ecopia came out to be 28 and 31m respectively.
The Ecopia fell short of the Defender’s performance by at least 10%, however, the grip and handling on wet surfaces were still impressive, as it would be for a tire in this price range.
Circumferential grooves were again a feature of this tire, which helped evacuate any water away from the tire. Though both the tires had comparable performances under light rain, the Ecopia lagged substantially (even more so than the Defender) in both braking and turning corners under heavy rain. Hence the Defender takes the win again.
Snow traction comparison
The performance under snowy conditions was decent at best- as would be expected from a set of all-season tires.
Most of the testing we did was under light snow with no more than two inches of snow on the road. If you’re looking for tires that perform significantly better under both light and heavy snow, specialized snow tires are the ones for you.
This is one category where the Ecopia surprisingly came out on top. The tire, owing to the use of Bridgestone’s Nano-Tech silica tread compound, gave usable traction and handling results in light snow.
This was more impressive when compared with the Defenders which seemed to be more prone to slipping and losing control.
However, with minimal snow and maximum caution, we deemed both these tires to be usable on an average snowy day.
The term hydroplaning refers to the phenomena that occur when, due to the presence of water on the road, the tire loses its contact with the road effectively nullifying any traction there is to offer.
This phenomenon comes into play when driving on a flooded road or under torrential rains and constitutes an important category in our comparison due to the associated hazards. With improved traction under wet conditions, hydroplaning gets significantly reduced.
With the premium water evacuation mechanisms these tires had to offer, both the Ecopia and Defender gave impressive hydroplaning resistance especially under heavy rain. Both tires utilized circumferential grooves in their designs which served as effective water evacuating mechanisms.
As would be expected, however, the Defenders gave slightly better hydroplaning resistance and traction control through their use of hundreds of lateral grooves.
Both tires performed admirably though and we are of the opinion that both of them can be safe to drive on wet/flooded roads.
Ride comfort comparison
With the premium price tag, you’d again expect premium performance in the comfort category and according to our tests, neither of these tires failed to meet our expectations.
The Ecopia’s use of two steel belts with the additional reinforcement of nylon made for some comfortable driving even when potholes and bumps were encountered.
The Defenders, however, gave better comfort results by a margin of at least 8%. The tire’s steel belts, polyester cord body, and the MaxTouch construction ensured that the overall driving experience was noticeably better when compared with the Ecopia.
For daily use, both these products gave the premium performance you’d expect them to and the slight difference that comes out with rigorous testing has more to do with side by side comparisons than with any deficiency in either of the tires.
Rolling resistance comparison
Both the Ecopia and the Defender come with the promise of lower rolling resistance and better fuel mileage.
We found that both the tires were neck and neck in this category and thanks to their exceptional individual designs, no clear winner could be chosen in this category.
The Ecopia again made use of its Nano-Tech silica tread compound with the end result being a rolling resistance so low that its become the main selling point for these tires!
The Defender, on the other hand, made use of its Green X and IntelliSipe technology with a distinct interlocking mechanism which allows the tread block to become more rigid and enhance the rolling resistance.
As stated above, both the tires were equally impressive in this category.
Comparison of fuel consumption
Another category in which both the tires delivered comparable performances; The Ecopia did slightly edge over the Defender and win this category.
The similar performances came due in part to the similar rolling resistance of these tires.
Michelin’s tire, equipped with MaxTouch and IntelliSipe, made use of an effective interlocking action to lower the increase rigidity of the tread block, lower the starting tread depth and enhance fuel efficiency without compromising longevity.
Bridgestone’s tire, on the other hand, utilized a fuel saver sidewall compound and Nanopro-Tech to increase fuel efficiency and return more energy back to the tire- effectively cutting down on energy lost as heat.
Comparison of noise levels
The noise levels of both these tires were generally low under most conditions, but neither of them is the quietest tire in the market.
The Defender did however once again post significantly better noise scores when compared with the Ecopia.
The increased number of sipes and unique tread pattern of Michelin’s tire allowed for a quieter and more comfortable drive. Whatever noise was encountered, started to be noticeable at around 65mph and substantially loud at 80mph.
Although the performance of a brand new set of Bridgestone’s Ecopia gave a similarly quiet and comfortable ride, with extensive use of more than 20,000 miles, the noise levels were significantly higher owing to the wear and tear of the tire.
Comparison of off-road driving experience
Since neither of these tires specializes in off-road driving, the experience was not one to actively seek out.
Neither tire is suited to prolonged off-road driving especially on surfaces such as sand, gravel, or mud.
Owing to the advanced tread patterns, however, both tires gave acceptable traction control on in-city off-road tracks and tracks with mild levels of dirt.
Though the traction suffered for both Ecopia and the Defender as the terrain got rough, the Defender with its multiple sipes tread pattern fared fairly better as compared to the Ecopia.
Comparison of steering responsiveness
This was another category where the results these two products delivered were equally impressive. The type of surface you drive on generally affects the steering responsiveness substantially, so to cut down on that variable we tested the steering responsiveness of both these tires on a dry surface.
Michelin’s breakthrough IntelliSipe technology combined with the increased number of sipes these tires had to offer were the main driving force behind the crisp braking and handling the Defender had to offer. Cutting corners was, in particular, a surprisingly pleasant experience.
Meanwhile, Ecopia’s use of its Nano-Tech silica tread compound meant that the traction, braking and handling we got from the use of these tires was on par with what the Defender had to offer,
The equally impressive responsiveness we got out of both these tires meant that no clear victor could be chosen from this category.
Comparison of environment-friendliness
One of the main selling points advertised by Bridgestone about their Ecopia tire was the promise of an eco-friendly tire with significantly reduced carbon emissions.
We found that, for the most part, the tire does live up to this claim.
The Japanese manufacturer made the use of recycled ground rubber prepared from ground-up used tires. Additionally, the Nano-Tech technology reduces the interaction between filler materials, polymers and other rubber chemicals at the molecular level.
Overall, these factors combined to give a tire that leaves behind a much smaller carbon footprint than its competitor.
The Michelin tire made no promises of being environmentally friendly and made no use of recycled materials in the manufacturing process. These factors culminated in a clear victory for the Ecopia in this category.
Comparison of tread wear
Much to our surprise, both tires suffered heavily in this category. At least they did so when compared with the hefty warranty they came with.
The Ecopia was warranted by Bridgestone for 65,000 miles meaning that we expected premium, long-lasting and durable performance for at least 60,000 miles.
However, according to most reviews, the tire’s performance began to deteriorate at about 25,000 miles with alarming signs of tread wear at 30,000 miles.
The Defender on the other hand came with a warranty of a whopping 90,000 miles. Yet the actual performance was far from this claim.
Most users reported a significant decline in the tire’s condition at 40,000 miles with the tire being practically unusable after 65,000 miles for most.
You could say the Defender outperforms the Ecopia in this category; if you’re looking for a longer-lasting tire then Michelin’s tire is the one for you. However, it should be emphasized that neither tire lived up to its lofty expectations in this category.
With the detailed side by side analysis of both these tires, it’s evident that Michelin’s Defender comes out on top as the clear winner.
The French company outperformed its Japanese counterpart in most of the categories and where it did lag behind (such as in environmental friendliness and snow traction), the difference seemed to be minimal.
However, the categories where it did emerge as a victor, it did surpass the Ecopia by a considerable margin. The product comes with a 60-day buy and try guarantee and 3 years of roadside assistance.
It should be emphasized that the Ecopia is by no means a bad tire and it’s also worth noting that these tires come with a 90-day buy and try guarantee by Bridgestone.
The performance is delivered in most categories was acceptable for the most part but compared to the impeccable results the Defender delivered, the Ecopia fell flat.
Therefore, our clear winner in this side by side comparison of two impressive all-weather tires, the Defender emerged as the clear victor.